The Dead Daisies – Burn it Down

In the ever-changing world of rock and metal, where scenes and trends seem to come and go as quickly as fashion seasons, there is an argument for reliability and consistency; a bolt hole for knowing exactly what you’re going to get and how you’re going to get it. For want of a better expression, let’s call this McDonald’s Rock.

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Anvil – Pounding The Pavement

It’s been almost forty years and we’re still reviewing Anvil albums. Would you like to know why? Because, Anvil are like your comfy, furry, winter slippers. Anvil is your grandmother’s meatloaf [I’m assuming this isn’t a euphemism…! ed] Anvil is always there in a comforting, supportive way. You don’t have to dig deep or get all metaphysical about an Anvil album. It’s just Rock n’ Roll. It’s straight-forward, undeviating, good old-fashioned Heavy Metal. Pounding The Pavement (Steamhammer/SPV) is forty-six minutes of throwback tunes from a more simple time in Metal. Continue reading

Marc Rizzo To Release His New Solo Album, Rotation, In March

Hell yes! Soulfly/Cavalera Conspiracy guitarist Marc Rizzo has announced that his new solo album, Rotation, will hit stores on March 30th via Combat Records/EMP Label Group/Amped in North America, and Combat/SPV in Europe. Continue reading

Doll Skin Books Their First European Tour

Doll Skin at ShipRocked, by Rick Triana

Punk rockers Doll Skin have booked their first-ever European tour, the Manic Pixie Dream Tour. Part of the tour will see the band support German punk band The Beatsteaks for three shows. Doll Skin released their Manic Pixie Dream Girl album last June via the EMP Label Group/SPV. Continue reading

CKY – The Phoenix

 

“Oh wait, CKY. They’re that band from Jackass – right?” Ladies and gentlemen, do not feel ashamed if that is the only remembrance you have of this alternative rock band. They’ve been on hiatus for roughly 8 years since the release of their 2009 album Carver City (Roadrunner) and it seems Deron Miller and Chad I Ginsburg have found the solution to their never-ending saga of conflict and confrontation. CKY’s fifth studio album The Phoenix (Longbranch/SPV/eOne) to not only puts Ginsburg front and center, it puts Miller completely out altogether leaving the band as a trio alongside Jess Margera and Matt Deis. Continue reading

Doll Skin Release Video for Shut Up (You Miss Me), Booked For Warped Tour

 

Arizona punks Doll Skin have released a video for their new song ‘Shut Up (You Miss Me)’ from their upcoming new album Manic Pixie Dream Girl (EMP Label Group/Amped). You can see the video below: Continue reading

Invidia – As The Sun Sleeps

Invidia (the brainchild of In This Moment’s Travis Johnson and former Skinlab guitarist Brian Jackson) aims to be the sonic version of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky, and makes no bones about it. The track ‘Step Up’ from their début As the Sun Sleeps (Steamhammer/Oblivion/SPV) spells this out quite literally, even lifting a line from the film that encompasses everything the band stands for: “It’s not about how hard you can hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” Continue reading

Fit For An Autopsy – The Great Collapse

Fit For An Autopsy’s fourth album, and second full-length with vocalist Joe Badolato, doesn’t come out of the gate swinging furiously. It comes out slogging, a hulking creature dragging its knuckles through mud and grime, knowing it can take its time. Because you can’t run. You’re frozen in fear. Continue reading

Saxon – Battering Ram

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I was thirteen years old, staying up late and listening to The Friday Rock Show on an old transistor radio the first time I heard Saxon. My parents were sleeping in the next room, so clearly not wanting to be disturbed by my latest, and somewhat “interesting” choice in music (a school friend had only introduced me to Metal a few weeks before) had told me to “keep it down”. A lot. So, with the volume knob set infuriatingly low, I did my best to listen to Tommy Vance (RIP) introducing the band’s latest single, ‘Do It All For You’, and was completely blown away by their singer. By god, she sounded fantastic!

Wait, what?

Yes, thanks to the combination of a lack of volume and a tinny 3” mono speaker, I was convinced Saxon were fronted by a girl. It came as quite a shock a few weeks later, while flicking through the pages of a popular, then bi-weekly music magazine, to discover their singer was actually a big northern bloke called Biff Byford. Okay, his hair was ridiculously bouncy and he wore skintight spandex leggings, but he was most definitely NOT a lady.

In more recent years, the hair may have become a little less fluffy and the waistlines might be a little larger, but the band have never strayed (too) far from their original path. After the rather lightweight Destiny (EMI) in 1988, the band released a sequence of enjoyable, if somewhat unspectacular albums, but 2004’s Lionheart (SPV) appeared to give them a new lease of life. Every release since then has maintained the same high standard and that trend continues with latest offering, Battering Ram (UDR).

Kicking things off in emphatic style, the bruising title track is quickly followed by ‘The Devil’s Footprint’, a song based on a story from 1855 where a number of townships believed cloven hoof prints found in the snow one morning belonged to the devil. After briefly tricking me into thinking my computer had developed a stutter, the stop-start riff of ‘Queen of Hearts’ quickly transforms into one of the album’s finest moments, and while ‘Destroyer’ may not be the most original of titles, it’s certainly appropriate as Biff attempts to demolish his vocal cords at the song’s climax.

By this point, I’m starting to wonder if Battering Ram contains any bad tracks at all. ‘Hard and Fast’ and ‘Eye of the Storm’ answer my question with a resounding no, but things do drop off a little with ‘Stand Your Ground’, which for all its speed and neat little middle section, doesn’t really go anywhere. ‘Top Of the World’ immediately steadies the (barely) wobbling ship anyway, and is followed by the almost Sabbath-esque crawl of ‘To The End’. David Bower of Derbyshire NWOBHMers Hell lends his considerable voice talents to six minute ‘The Kingdom of the Cross’, a darkly atmospheric song about the First World War, while “bonus track” ‘Three Sheets to the Wind’ rounds things off a little strangely. A throwaway drinking song which sounds a little out of place coming after such a brooding, melancholic masterpiece.

With producer Andy Sneap at the helm, the album sounds fantastic. The guitars are razor sharp, the drums are big, the bass is clear, and Biff’s vocals ring out as powerfully as they have ever done.

Now, if only they’d go back to doing videos featuring desert roads and big American trucks…

 

8.0/10

 

GARY ALCOCK